Donald Trump is out tweeting, again. This time, he’s blaming the House Freedom Caucus for the failure of the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Similarly, he’s accused conservatives of abandoning their campaign promise to repeal and replace Obamacare by not supporting the AHCA.
Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 26, 2017
But, who’s really abandoning their campaign promise? Remember when Senator Marco Rubio delivered his best debate of the campaign? Rubio cornered Donald Trump on his healthcare plan. Rubio asked, “what is your plan?” In a long back-and-forth exchange, Trump said several different ways that his plan was getting rid of “lines around the states.” Rubio countered, “what else is part of your healthcare plan?”
Trump said, once again, “the lines around the states… when you get rid of the lines, that brings in competition. So instead of having one insurance company taking care of New York or Texas, you will have many. They’ll compete, and it’ll be a beautiful thing.”
The President was right, that would be a beautiful thing, but that beautiful thing — the one beautiful thing he promised — was not in the AHCA.
He promised it so many times that Rubio jabbed, “now, he’s repeating himself.” Trump hit back, “I watched him repeat himself five times four weeks ago (at the last debate).” Rubio lasted the final blow, “I saw you repeat yourself five times five seconds ago.”
Rubio hit Trump hard on only having one big promise: to allow Americans to buy plans across state lines. Yet, this wasn’t in Trump’s first big bill. The excuse Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan used was that it couldn’t pass the Senate using reconciliation, the procedural rule that allows a bill to be voted on with only 50 votes instead of the usual 60.
That’s why the administration and the Speaker laid out a three-part plan. Part one was Ryan’s AHCA, part two was executive action by HHS Secretary Tom Price, and part three was all the provisions that would have actually lowered costs — like allowing for the interstate sale of insurance.
Of course, some things Ryan originally said couldn’t be done with reconciliation, like removing minimum insurance requirements, were added into the bill. But, not the interstate sale of insurance. Did Ryan ask the Senate parliamentarian if it could be done?
Nope. And what’s worse, the person who ultimately makes the call is Vice President Mike Pence, who presides over the Senate. As chair of the Senate, 60 votes would be needed to overrule Pence’s parliamentary decision.
So, in all likelihood, it could have been done easily, and would have aided in the bill’s passage and support among conservatives. But, thanks to Trump’s feckless trust in Ryan, it wasn’t added. The one promise Trump repeated like a broken record in 2016 wasn’t added, and the bill failed.